04/17/2018, 19.04
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Catholic died in hospital following Quetta attack because of poor medical care (Video)

by Kamran Chaudhry

Azhar Iqbal, one of the two victims, was a young 28-year-old Catholic university student. He practised bodybuilding and had a good chance of surviving the wounds from the four bullets. A demonstration is held in Karachi against poor health care.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – One of the two Christians who died on Sunday following an attack in Quetta’s Catholic area of Esa Nagri "died in hospital due to the lack of surgeons and poor medical care," this according to Shezan William, executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan in Quetta.

Speaking to AsiaNews, he said that Azhar Iqbal, one of the two victims, was a young 28-year-old Catholic university student. "He was in a shop waiting with his friend Rahid Khalid (the second victim), a tenth grader. Those wounded were simply passing by walking in the market.”

"Despite being seriously wounded, he continued to talk to his friend and encourage him. Since he practiced bodybuilding, he was a healthy boy and had good chances of surviving."

Instead he did not make it. Azhar arrived at the Bolan Medical Complex Hospital around 5:30 pm on the afternoon of 15 April, just minutes after he was hit by four bullets.

An armed commando had arrived in the neighbourhood on motorcycles and started firing at Christians outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In addition to Azhar and Rahid, three other people were injured, including a woman and a child.

"Unfortunately, only inexperienced trainees were on duty at the hospital," Williams said. "It was the friends who inserted a cannula, but when he was taken to the first floor, the oxygen tank was empty."

In the meantime, the desperate family broke the door to the emergency ward. Azhar bled to death on the way to the cardiology ward. He fought against death for 20 minutes."

On the same day, hundreds of Christians took to the streets to protest against the "lazy hospital staff". During the demonstration they burnt tires and chanted slogans against the provincial government (see video).

The remains the two friends remained exposed for two hours at the Goli Mar crossing, to allow relatives and friends to say goodbye. The funeral was celebrated yesterday by two priests.

Meanwhile, the National Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan organised a demonstration today in front of the Karachi Press Club.

In a statement released on Sunday, the organisation condemned the incidents of Quetta and slammed that "Attacks [that] often target Pakistan's minorities including Christians, Hindus, Shia Hazaras and members of Ahmadiyya sect." The later are considered heretical by mainstream Muslims.

For Commission president Mgr Joseph Arshad, national director Fr Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani), and executive director Cecil Shane Chaudhry, "it is the responsibility of the state to provide protection and security to its citizens."

Chaudhry stressed that "Christians are the most peaceful community in Pakistan and have been under attack for no reason."

Speaking about the other two recent attacks that have upset the community of Quetta (against the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church last December and against a group of Christians travelling on a rickshaw on Easter Monday (2 April), he noted again the failure of the “national action plan to counter extremism and intolerance. The government must ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to justice.”

(Shafique Khokhar contributed to this article)

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